RubyConf*MI in review

by pat eyler

This weekend, I flew out to Grand Rapids, Michigan for the first ever RubyConf*MI — one of the first regional Ruby Conferences (David Alan Black reminded me that San Diego held one earlier this year). Other than what might have been the worst flight schedule in my long history of flying it was a great weekend, centered around a great little conference.

It was a well attended conference. There were 58 people there, including the organizers and speakers (an overlapping group). People travelled a lot further than I'd have thought: there were several from Toledo, Ohio (~2 hours); 4 from South Bend, Indiana (~3 hours); a couple from Columbus, Ohio (~5 hours); and one from Ft Collins, Colorado.

The schedule was full, with nine 45 minute presentations separated by 15 minute breaks. A lunch and lots of bottled water were also provided. The presentations were about 2/3 Rails oriented, and 1/3 pure Ruby. Speakers included: Zach Dennis, one of the organizers (who presented twice); Karlin Fox from Atomic Object, who talked about some of their Rails testing practices and tools; David Alan Black, who talked about Relational Database Engineering and Rails; Patrick Hurley, who talked about Ruby, Performance and C; Mark Van Holstyn (another organizer), who talked about using AJAX in Rails; Craig Demyanovich (an organizer and first time presenter, who gave a good introduction to BDD and RSpec; Dan Morrison, who talked about deploying Rails apps with Capistrano; and myself, I talked about libraries for developers.

As a whole the conference was well received, getting an average 4.19 satisfaction rating out of 5 (hanging out with the organizers, I got to see the aggregated data). I've also seen some good write-ups including: Andrew Turner's and Zach Denis'. I also blogged some feedback on my flight home (isn't free WiFi in airport terminals wonderful?).

If you're planning a regional conference, I think you'd do well to look at what the RubyConf*MI guys did. I hope your conference goes as well. I know I'm looking forward to next year's conference in Michigan, I hope I'll be able to make it back.